Where it started

A list going round on Facebook, February 2016: "which of these items have you experienced" etc. Some yes, some no, some didn't interest me. However, it put some ideas into my head, and I figured it was time I followed some of my friends in committing them to (virtual) paper. And then trying some of them out. The first challenge was undertaken on 1 March 2016, and I have no intention of ever completing the list: the more I tick off, the more I'll add.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Long walk: the London Bridges Trek

The aim: to be able to walk a marathon distance in June 2017 without keeling over. The training: gradually increase the distance of my longest walks, and add in more medium-length walks, for the intervening 9 months. The additional benefit: sponsorship to fund-raise for my choice of charities.

Having managed two 12-13 mile walks in recent weeks, this was my first 15 miler: a walk across the bridges of London, from Putney to Tower. Roughly 25K (15 miles). I publicised it, asked around, and was rewarded with generosity and support from many friends.

I lost two dear friends to pancreatic cancer - which is (I believe) the fastest, least often detected, lowest survival rate cancer in that ghastly cast list - during the last couple of years. So - as much for awareness-raising as for scientific research - I chose to support Pancreatic Cancer UK.

At the time of writing, I've raised £610 (plus in many cases gift aid). Thank you, all, so much. (The link to my fundraising page is here.)


Additional bonus: meet up with work colleague of (whisper it) almost 30 years ago. The fabulous Janice was walking with some present-day workmates, in aid of Small Steps (helping young children with disabilities). I hadn't seen her since a reunion in 2011, and before that since I moved jobs in 1988 or so. We won't leave it so long next time.

So: off we went. My 'wave' set off at 11:45 from Putney.

It was a very damp day. By the time we reached the 5K mark, it was raining heavily - although thankfully, most of the rest of the day was no more than a drizzle. Still pretty soggy by the end, though. Funnily enough, it didn't bother me too much. If it had been very cold or extremely windy, I think it might have been a different matter; but warm rain isn't too unpleasant.

I took just under five hours to walk just over 15 miles - hence a pace of a bit under 3 miles/hour. Which I thought was pretty good over such a long distance - until I realised that Janice had got in about half an hour before me having started 15 minutes later!

I chatted to a few other walkers along the way; but mostly was quite happy with my own thoughts. Observing the busy life of Londoners and visitors alike, seeing areas of the capital that I'd never seen before (to my shame - having been born a Londoner); appreciating some magnificent architecture, buildings and bridges alike. I took a photograph at each bridge - some selfies, some of the bridges; you can see the whole album here if you're interested...

I have to say that the one disappointment of the day was the poor quality of food supplied at the lunch break (Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens). This being a major physical challenge, and considering that in many cases we were fund-raising for health-related charities, I was baffled by the lack of healthy food.

Apples were the only items that weren't stuffed full of sugar or additives. Danish pastries? Mars Bars? Haribos, for goodness' sake? Even the cereal bars, when one examined the contents, were overloaded with sugar (which is, after all, one of the main causes of cancer). And no, you don't need sugar for energy; far higher-quality carbohydrate can be obtained elsewhere. Where were the bananas? The plain nuts? The green stuff? At the risk of drum-banging on this topic, I wish that the organisers (Action Challenge UK) would think a little more carefully about this element of  their event - which was otherwise pretty well organised. They could learn a lot from my colleagues at Mother Nature's Diet. OK, rant over.


Finally, shortly after 5pm, I was greeted by the aforementioned speedy Janice, together with my lovely husband. T-shirt, medal and congratulations all round. (I had a nominal mouthful of pink fizz but declined the free hot-dog...)

I was thrilled and proud of what I'd achieved. I've learned that London pavements are a good deal harder on the joints than Norfolk country lanes and beaches; that I have more resources and determination than I thought possible; that I don't mind walking in the rain; that many hundreds (and thousands) of people want to challenge themselves and often to support charities at the same time; that there is a great deal of open-hearted generosity in the world. I was proud to be part of it all.

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